Saturday 23rd June, 2012Printable Version
Bolgatanga June 22, GNA – The United Nations has set June 23, as a day to address poverty and injustice faced by widows and their dependants across the World of which Ghana is no exception.
It is worth mentioning that the International Widows' Day was initiated by the Loomba Foundation in 2005. The plight of widows worldwide has been the focus of the foundation since it was established in 1997.
According to its Founder, Raj Loomba, women in many countries experience great hardships after their husbands die.
“They are not looked after by governments or NGOs and they are shunned by the society,” she noted.
The observance of the day falls on June 23, 1954 when Loomba's mother became a widow. The first officially recognised International Widows' Day on June 23, 2011 was marked with a conference held in the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
The theme for this year’s celebration to be held in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region is: “Equal Rights, Equal Opportunities and Progressiveness for All.”
It is expected to be attended by widows from Northern, Upper East, Upper West, Volta and Ashanti Regions as well as Burkina Faso.
The event which is being organised by the Widows Network with support from Widows and Orphans Movement and Action Aid, an NGO would bring together traditional rulers, civil society organisations and stakeholder ministries, departments and agencies.
It would brainstorm and create a platform for the discussion of all forms of injustices against widows and their children and to chart a way forward to address the plight of widows.
The predicament of widows in the north is so pathetic, worrisome, ands needs urgent attention.
A workshop organised by the Widows and Orphans Movement, in Bolgatanga for the Widows Network of Talens-Nabdam in the Upper East Region, revealed that about 88 children who have lost their fathers could not continue their education as their families could not fend for them.
The workshop sponsored by Action Aid Ghana aimed at disseminating findings on issues bordering widows and their children in the district to stakeholders.
The report revealed that more than 10 widows have been denied of their husbands’ inheritance by their relatives and these include land, animals and houses, thus making it very difficult for them to cater for their children.
“As a result of this problem, most of us abandon our children at home and leave for urban centres to look for menial jobs,” says Mrs Beatrice Adongo Saa, a widow.
The research also revealed that 12 widows were neglected in the district by their late husband’s relatives to fend for themselves and children, and as a result majority of the children have also migrated to the southern sector.
Narrating some of the ordeals they go through after the death of their husbands, some of the widows indicated that they were made to strip naked, drink concoctions and had their hair shaved off as part of widowhood rites.
Others were forced to marry their late husband’s brothers against their will.
“This, I refused to do and I was tied and beaten by my husband’s relatives. I used my teeth to tear the bonds and escaped to my family house where I was driven away. I eventually went to a friend’s house and subsequently reported the case to the Orphans and Widows Movement, which came to my aid by renting a room for me. As I speak to you now all my four children have gone to the south”, says Ms Cynthia Dolbil.
The widows therefore appealed to traditional rulers who they believe command respect in their communities to take up the mantle and fight to change the ill-treatment meted out to them.
Already traditional authorities including Naba Baba Salifu Aleemyarum, Paramount Chief of Bongo, and Naba Moses Aganzua, Chief of Winkongo, have banned most cultural practices affecting widows.
Mrs Betty Ayagiba, Chief Executive Officer of the Orphans and Widows Movement, told the Ghana News Agency that in some cases widows are denied meat and eggs, which affects their nutritional status.
Let us all join hands together in fighting the canker by making the international widows’ day event a success.
GNA feature By Samuel Adadi Akapule